Sara Recommends!

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She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor Duology #1) By Shelley Parker-Chan Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250621818
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Published: Tor Books - June 28th, 2022

When I finished this book, I didn’t know what day it was, what year it was, couldn’t tell you my own name. The kind of book that leaves you dazed for days. A grimdark historical fantasy that pulls no punches when it comes to the dregs of the human spirit, a queer reimagining of Mongol-ruled China that seethes with political and military intrigue. Remember to breathe and unclench your jaw as you’re reading this one (unless your jaw is already on the floor). 

Sara, Longfellow Books


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One Last Stop By Casey McQuiston Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250244499
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Published: St. Martin's Griffin - June 1st, 2021

I’m just here to quickly say that this much-hyped books DELIVERS – my gosh, it delivers. Please forward my mail to the Q train, because once I’m finished full-body sobbing in love over this book I will be taking up permanent residence on the NY subway (an indication that perhaps I missed the point of this story but we’ll table that for now). Two of the highlights for me are the peeks into the fight for gay rights in the 1970’s, and the fact that 5 people share a small Brooklyn apartment with zero roommate conflict or tension. It’s just exactly the antidote to everything that I needed.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Lore Olympus: Volume One By Rachel Smythe Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780593356074
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Worlds - November 2nd, 2021

The Real Housewives but make it Greek mythology (and I say that without derision). Thousands of years of Hades & Persephone stories have not prepared you for Rachel Smythe’s electrifying rendition; dazzling artwork and intricate characterizations, laugh-out-loud moments and gut punches of life and love. You’ll need more of this immediately – try Punderworld by Linda Sejic (another WEBTOON phenom) and look out for Lore Olympus Volume 2 in July 2022!

Sara, Longfellow Books


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In the Woods: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad #1) By Tana French Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143113492
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Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2008

These books got me out of a years-long reading slump. The perfect combination of propulsive writing, twisty plots, and dimensional characters. I devoured this series and then the rest of French’s books – The Likeness is the standout for me. I usually consume mysteries exclusively during the winter months, but these also make excellent beach reads.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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The Blacktongue Thief By Christopher Buehlman Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250799975
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - May 10th, 2022

In a word: rollicking.

In a few words: if Discworld and D&D had a baby…

Every single page of this book is a delight, from the clever sentence structure and inventive turns of phrase to the characters’ personalities and the rich worldbuilding, all buoyed by one of the most affably sardonic, foul-mouthed narrators I’ve come across.

I love a well-worn fantasy trope as much as the next enthusiast, and I don’t necessarily need someone to make the genre seem shiny and new, but what Buehlman does here through his artful infusion of dark humor and joy into this world is remind me why I love mischievous thieves, cantankerous goblins, and a Quest along a Road.

Pair this with The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and Rickety Stitch by Ben Costa, or Maine writer Josh Gauthier’s Land of Outcasts.

Treat yourself to the audiobook version as well - Buehlman is a comedian and an experienced renaissance reenactor and his narration is top notch.  

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Series #1) By Tamsyn Muir Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250313188
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Published: Tordotcom - July 14th, 2020

If you’re into lesbian dark magic swordplay space operas featuring skeletons and reanimated corpses, then welcome home to the Locked Tomb (and we should probably be friends).

This was a noisy reading experience for me – pretty much every page had me gasping, laughing, groaning, or crying. The sarcasm is so heavy that I was worried it would fall flat pretty quickly, but Muir sustains the tone throughout in a way that makes the characters’ acerbity endearing and truly funny. So much ‘tude from everyone in this book.

The framework of this story might seem familiar enough – noble houses with different powers competing for positions of honor through a set of mysterious challenges – but I promise you’ve never been in a world quite like this one. Is it sci-fi or fantasy or horror or romance or comedy? It is, yes!

This book is so weird and funny and dark and gross that I was not prepared for the full-on HEARTBREAK I experienced at the end.

So, so good.  

Sara, Longfellow Books


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The City of Brass: A Novel (The Daevabad Trilogy) By S. A. Chakraborty Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062678119
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Voyager - July 3rd, 2018

Rich like a chocolate fountain, luxurious like a face full of lilacs, enveloping like a warm blanket on a chilly evening – sub in whatever is rich, luxurious, and enveloping for you because Chakraborty will Transport you with a capital T.

This book superbly blends history and fantasy, action and detail, magic and daily humdrum life, and the characters leap off the page – even the minor ones, maybe especially the minor ones. Nahri and Dara live rent-free in my head, but so do Yaqub and Saffiyeh, who have between them just a few pages (and one of whom is not even alive during the events of the book).

There’s no crack or crevice in this book that isn’t exploding with life and magic and intrigue – you’ll be as riveted by the descriptions of market stalls and dust clouds as you are by the epic battles of ghouls and mythical beings.

Do yourself a favor and take a break from epic fantasy a la Medieval Europe and take a seat at this Middle Eastern smorgasbord.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Dress Coded By Carrie Firestone Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781984816450
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Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - May 17th, 2022

My former middle school students read this book and immediately came to talk to me about their experiences being dress coded at school. They scheduled a meeting with the Principal and helped edit the relevant section in the school’s student handbook. Thank you, Carrie Firestone! Another book that had a similar effect: Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann (young adult graphic novel).

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Go with the Flow By Karen Schneemann, Lily Williams Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781250143174
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Published: First Second - January 14th, 2020

My former middle school students read this book and immediately came to talk to me about the availability of menstrual products at our school. They collaborated with the school nurse and guidance counselor to make it easier for students to access period resources and products. Thank you, Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann! Another book that had a similar effect: Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone (middle grade fiction).

Sara, Longfellow Books


Dry By Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781481481977
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Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 3rd, 2019

A perennial read-aloud favorite with my 8th graders, this story is gripping and evocative, transporting you to the center of the action and conflict. This book was timely when it was published in 2018, and unfortunately becomes more so every year.

The drought in Alyssa’s California community has gotten so bad - even after long periods of strict rationing - that the taps run dry entirely. Suddenly Alyssa and her family are thrown into survival mode, and when her parents disappear, she has to start making life-or-death decisions for herself and her brother.

A gripping dystopian novel that sparks important questions and discussions.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Prairie Lotus By Linda Sue Park Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780358454632
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Published: Clarion Books - March 22nd, 2022

As a kid did I have a monthly subscription to The Little House on the Prairie VHS tapes? Did I visit living history museums and dress up like a pioneer and pretend to work there? Yes, yes I did. I have lived and breathed romanticized pioneer life for a long time, and I am so glad that Prairie Lotus exists. It expands upon and interrogates the familiar and beloved facets of the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories and gives us a new frontier heroine in Hanna, a half-Chinese girl living with her white father in 1880’s Dakota Territory.

Read this and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich along with the original Little House series for a richer fictional foray into this historical period.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Greenglass House By Kate Milford, Jaime Zollars (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kate Milford, Jaime Zollars (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780544540286
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarion Books - November 1st, 2016

For fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

 

Greenglass House is my favorite of the mystery-puzzle-whodunit-family secrets-mysterious strangers-treasure hunt lot; atmospheric, lovable characters, depth of feeling, and just a really good mystery!

For a YA version of this kind, try The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynne Barnes (ages 13-17).

Sara, Longfellow Books


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The Tea Dragon Society By K. O'Neill, K. O'Neill (Illustrator) Cover Image
By K. O'Neill, K. O'Neill (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9781620107379
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: Oni Press - June 16th, 2020

Move over, Pokémon! There are some new adorable powerful creatures in town: tea dragons. This is the gentlest, sweetest, most huggable (?) series; the kinds of books that quiet your mind, fill your heart, and inspire countless themed parties afterwards. 

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Year of the Reaper By Makiia Lucier Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780358272090
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Published: Clarion Books - November 9th, 2021

My favorite YA fantasy read of 2022 (so far). This book covers a lot of ground – literally, the characters are constantly moving around – and juggles many plot points and character arcs and does it all with aplomb.

Everything in this story has a bleak veneer – the plague-ravaged countryside and cities, the deeply scarred and traumatized characters, the brutality of freshly post-war life, but just below the surface of it all pulses tentative hope and grace that the characters try to nurture in themselves and each other. 

The details in the world-building and the characters’ personalities really make this one stand out from the deluge of YA fantasy out there. The laugh-out-loud moments really catch you off guard and make the rest even more poignant.

If you’re looking for a quick, breathless read steeped in political intrigue and dark fantasy tropes, give this a try. 

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Pax By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780062377029
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: Balzer + Bray - April 2nd, 2019

An unusual recommendation in that I have not read this book (though I’m a big fan of Pennypacker’s Clementine series and Here in the Real World); I’m sharing with you that dozens of former elementary and middle school students have reported to me over the years that this is their favorite book, and often when I encountered a student struggling to find a book that they enjoyed or that “clicked” for them, this book was the winner.

Who better to recommend a book to kids than other kids!

Sara, Longfellow Books (and her former students!)


Carry On: Bookshelf Edition (Simon Snow Trilogy #1) By Rainbow Rowell Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250806918
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Wednesday Books - July 6th, 2021

Harry Potter but make it gay teenagers! (And keep them British.) This series is a lot of fun and keeps the cursed-orphan-magical-school-parallel-worlds train chugging along. It was really hard to say goodbye to these characters and this world – for all its familiarity it carved its own niche into my wizard-loving heart for sure.

I will ship Simon and Baz forever!

Sara, Longfellow Books


She Drives Me Crazy By Kelly Quindlen Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250209153
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - April 20th, 2021

Really fun queer teen enemies-to-lovers & fake dating, rife with sports and fun families and dry humor. The emotional development of the main character, Scottie, is especially satisfying, and Irene is a perfect example of a teenage girl who is constantly underestimated and misunderstood based on her looks and her interests. 

The setting is a small town in Georgia (“Grandma Earl, GA” = best town name ever), and the teens’ queerness is mostly incidental (no raging parents, no bullying at school, etc.). A super satisfying rom-com that will keep you hooked and make you think – and there are plenty of duos to ship along the way! 

For more fake dating schemes try Frankly in Love by David Yoon, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon, and of course To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

Sara, Longfellow Books


The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor By Shaenon K. Garrity, Christopher Baldwin (Illustrator) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781534460867
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - July 20th, 2021

This sci-fi Jane Eyre-esque mashup is truly for anyone who enjoys a good parody of the things they love. Haley is all of us who have clutched our tattered copies of Wuthering Heights as we trespass upon ruined buildings in the rain (I know I’m not the only one…).

This is such a fun and funny romp through gothic tropes, complete with creepy housekeeper and pining young lords, and thank goodness Haley is at the helm: with the perfect blend of enthusiasm and practicality, she is a superhero for gothic nerds everywhere.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Six of Crows By Leigh Bardugo Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9781250076960
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - February 6th, 2018

This duology counts among the most memorable reading experiences I’ve ever had, and I would give a lot to be able to read them again for the first time. I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat – I love these characters fiercely.

Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy gets all the hype that comes with the 2021 Netflix show, but I find the Crows duology to be the best of the Grishaverse. The pacing is fast but the plot remains intricate and the worldbuilding immersive. You’ll recognize echoes in this fantasy world of Russia, China, Scandinavia, Ireland, and the Netherlands and hints of Renaissance Europe and the industrial age as the backdrop for the ensemble cast of characters taking on the heist of a lifetime.

The characters are really what make this so special. Each chapter rotates among the main characters’ perspectives, which I don’t always enjoy, but there is not a single character in this book that I don’t want to hear more from. I will never get over Kaz, Inej, Nina, Jesper, Matthias, and Wylan. The misfit teenage criminals chosen family of my dreams!

Bardugo will leave a Ketterdam-shaped hole in your heart with this one.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise By Dan Gemeinhart Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781250233615
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: Square Fish - July 21st, 2020

This book stretched my heart in all directions – truly heartwarming, full of memorable characters and adventures, a great story to read aloud. Pulls no punches, covers heavy topics (including death, mental illness, and poverty), but handles them authentically and tenderly.

Sara, Longfellow Books


Snapdragon By Kat Leyh Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781250171115
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Published: First Second - February 4th, 2020

My favorite book of 2020! I reread this immediately upon finishing it because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Snap (and her baby opossums) or Jacks (and her crocs) or the tender magic of this heartwarming and beautiful story. (You might recognize Leyh’s artwork from the Lumberjanes series.) You will come away from this book with a renewed sense of wonder in the natural world and appreciation for the chosen family in your life. And you’ll never look at roadkill the same way ever again!

Sara, Longfellow Books


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Sweep (PJ Library edition): The Story of a Girl and Her Monster By Jonathan Auxier Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781419737022
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: Amulet Paperbacks - January 7th, 2020

I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Historical fantasy at its absolute best. An exhilarating blend of history, fantasy, and mythology, fans of Auxier (The Night Gardener, Peter Nimble series) will not be disappointed, and those new to his work will be hooked.

Auxier confronts head-on the horrors of child labor in Victorian London and the broader class issues of the time, but with his trademark Dickensian whimsy he fills the story with magic, longing, and wonder. Your heart will be several sizes bigger after reading this book.

Sara, Longfellow Books


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The Dark Lord Clementine By Sarah Jean Horwitz Cover Image
$8.95
ISBN: 9781643751337
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - April 20th, 2021

The funniest middle grade book I’ve read in a long time – grown-ups, you’ll want to read this one too (family read aloud, anyone?). There are layers to the wordplay and humor, with something for everyone in this quirky quest adventure. Don’t be fooled by the slapstick surface here though, underneath is a really tender and moving exploration of family dynamics, friendships, prejudice, and homecoming. Magic and mayhem and heart aplenty!

Sara, Longfellow Books